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Hurricane Sandy: A glancing blow

  • Sections of Goldmine Road in Dublin were coned off on Tuesday afternoon due to down wires.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)
  • Dave Allain, of Asplundh Tree Expert Co. in Weare, removes limbs from a tree with an chainsaw on Fox Farm road in New Ipswich on Tuesday, in preparation for removing it.
  • Dave Allain, of Asplundh Tree Expert Co. in Weare, removes limbs from a tree supported by electrical and telephone wires on Fox Farm road in New Ipswich on Tuesday, in preparation for removing it.
  • Lord Brook Road in Rindge, from the Main Street turnoff to 19 Lord Brook Rd., was closed to traffic Tuesday morning, as work crews repaired down wires. <br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)
  • Downed wires and trees had Lord Brook Road in Rindge closed to traffic on Tuesday morning, while crews cleared the debris and restored power.
  • Lord Brook Road in Rindge was closed on Tuesday morning, as crews worked to clear downed electrical wires and fallen trees.
  • A PSNH crew works on power lines along Route 136 in Peterborough on Tuesday morning.<br/>
  • Fallen trees on the side of Route 202 in Bennington took out power lines and poles, temporarily closing the street the day after Hurricane Sandy.
  • Stephanie Brekka of Antrim examines a huge portion of uprooted earth, ripped from the ground next to Route 202 when several trees at once were felled by Hurricane Sandy.
  • A fallen tree looms over a car on Carley Road in Peterborough on Tuesday. Photographer Frank Karlicek, who lives on the road, wrote,  "Thought you might like this photo . . . .  in the end life must go on."<br/> <br/>Frank Karlicek<br/>195 Carley Road<br/>Peterborough
  • Lord Brook Road in Rindge was closed on Tuesday morning, as crews worked to clear downed electrical wires and fallen trees.
  • Workers from Asplundh Tree Expert Co. in Weare deal with fallen trees blocking Fox Farm Road in New Ipswich on Tuesday.
  • Carolyn Boland, left, Pat Newcomb, back to camera, and Char Forsten share news at Fiddleheads Cafe in Hancock Tuesday morning. Fiddleheads had power and was open for business while most of the rest of town was in the dark.

Some Monadnock region residents awoke Tuesday to find power was still out after the storm brought in by Hurricane Sandy blew branches and trees down in the path of electrical wires. Others found the morning’s commute slower than usual as they dodged downed branches in the road and in some cases found themselves forced to find alternative routes due to downed trees and wires. By Wednesday morning, those without power were a dwindling mass. Hurricane Sandy wound down Wednesday, with scattered showers around the state but nothing that was expected to cause further delays in road clearing or restoration of power to the thousands still waiting for power to be restored.

At the height of the storm, Hurricane Sandy knocked out power to more than two million customers throughout the eastern seaboard. According to the N.H. Department of Safety, about 210,000 New Hampshire residences were without power at the peak of the storm, but that number was down to about 70,000 Wednesday morning.

This storm was the fourth worst in terms of the number of power outages, after the December 2008 ice storm, when 422,000 lost power, the February 2010 windstorm that caused 310,000 outages and last year’s October snow storm, with 210,000 outages. President Barack Obama approved Gov. John Lynch’s request for an emergency declaration Tuesday, making federal support available in all 10 New Hampshire counties.

The power company called in 550 line crews from as far away as Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas. They started to arrive Monday night, according to PSNH, and joined more than 100 PSNH and local contractor line crews and 100 tree trimming crews already at work in the state.

According to PSNH data as of 2 p.m. Tuesday, the hardest hit local towns were Francestown, Hancock and New Ipswich. In Francestown, 819 of 914 customers – 89 percent – lost power. In Hancock, the numbers were 863 of 1026, or 86 percent. In New Ipswich, 73 percent lost power – 1,640 out of 2,220. In contrast, Jaffrey and Peterborough were among the least hard-hit towns. Just 14 percent of PSNH customers in Jaffrey lost power – 446 out of 3009. And PSNH tallied 779 out of 3,721 without power in Peterborough, a 20 percent tally.

New Ipswich

The majority of New Ipswich residents were in the dark in the wake of Monday’s storm. At the peak of power outages there, 85 percent of homes were without power, according to Captain Meredith Lund of the New Ipswich Fire Department. But by midday Tuesday the bulk of residents had regained electricity, with 99 percent of power restored, she said.

New Ipswich residents found several roads closed Tuesday morning. Benny Hill Road was closed after washout damage. Green Farm Road was closed to through traffic after a tree branch knocked down an electrical wire in the road. Old Country Road, Poor Farm Road and Fox Farm Road were all closed with trees downed by the wind. All of the closed roads were cleared to a passable condition as of noon on Tuesday, said Lund.

The last of the New Ipswich residents without power had it restored early Wednesday afternoon, according to Emergency Management Director Jim Hicks. Old Wilton Road was one of the last areas to get electricity back, Hicks said, but repairs were completed Wednesday, which officially restored power to 100 percent of customers.

Peterborough

In Peterborough on Tuesday morning, portions of Burke Road, Carley Road and East Mountain Road were closed due to trees down. A tree came down on High Street, but the road was passable.

Peterborough Public Works Director Rodney Bartlett said the town made out well during the storm. “We had very little infrastructure damage,” Bartlett said. “There was limited local flooding and no flooding on the Contoocook or the Nubanusit. The wetlands were all fairly low before the storm, which helped.”

Bartlett said about 760 homes, approximately 23 percent of the town, were without power Tuesday morning. Bartlett said the storm caused some delays for repair crews because the bucket trucks used to fix power lines don’t operate in winds over 40 mph.

In Peterborough, the only road still closed on Wednesday afternoon was High Street, near the MacDowell Colony, where a tree was hanging on wires, blocking part of the road, according to Bartlett. “The other roads are all passable,” Bartlett said. “Windy Row, East Mountain Road and some other remote locations are still without power, but other locations are slowly coming back.

Bartlett said 172 residences in Peterborough were without power as of 2 p.m. Wednesday.

Sharon

Town Administrative Assistant Chet Bowles said Wednesday that most residents had power restored by about 11 a.m. on Tuesday, but about 38 residences were still out on Wednesday. “We had some trees down, but all in all very little damage,” Bowles said.

Hancock

In Hancock, about 80 percent of homes lost power late Monday afternoon, according to DPW Director Kurt Grassett. Tree limbs were down on many roads, with Middle Road, Davenport Road and the far end of King’s Highway still closed Tuesday morning.

“Townwide, we’re not in bad shape,” Grassett said. “We’ve been through a lot worse.”

Hancock Police Chief Andrew Wood said no accidents or traffic issues had been reported.

“People are staying off the roads,” Wood said.

Both the Hancock Market and Fiddleheads Cafe were open Tuesday morning, although market owner Nancy Adams was selling newspapers and groceries from the shelves in the dark, because she was using her limited generator power to keep her freezers and coolers running.

Sherry Williams, the owner of Fiddleheads, said she had invested in a generator three months ago.

“I’m glad I have it,” Williams said of her recent purchase. “I’m having the hardest time keeping it going. I have to keep sending out for gas. I’m very happy to stay open for the town.”

At 12:43 p.m., Grassett notified Hancock residents by email that two PSNH crews were starting work to restore power in the center of town.

PSNH crews were working to restore power on Davenport Road and King’s Highway near the Nubanusit Lake boat launch site on Wednesday, according to Grassett. The only two roads still closed were Mill Road and Old Dublin Road to Jacquith Road. In an email to residents, Grassett said he expected all power to be restored by Wednesday night.

Hancock still had 479 homes without power on Wednesday afternoon, according to PSNH.

Lyndeborough

In Lyndeborough, a tree fell on 2002 Dodge Ram pickup truck, according to Lt. Rance Deware. He said the accident occurred on Cemetery Road and there were no injuries, but he didn’t have additional details, since the officer on duty had not yet completed a report.

Portions of Center Road and Curtis Brook Road were closed Tuesday morning due to trees on wires, Deware said.

Trees or limbs also fell on wires on Cram Hill Road, Center Road near Wilton Road, Mountain Road, Gulf Road, New Road, Pinnacle Road and Cemetery Road, but those roads were passable.

On Cemetery Road near the town lot, a tree was smoldering Tuesday morning after it came down on power lines. Deware said town crews were monitoring that situation, but the road was not closed. PSNH workers had been notified, Deware said.

Lyndeborough Town Administrator Kate Thorndike said the town office, which was powered by a generator Tuesday, was open for business.

Bennington

The biggest damage in Bennington came when a large tree located on Route 202 and Pierce Hill came down, damaging other trees and telephone poles, said Bennington Police Chief Steve Campbell Tuesday morning.

“We got lucky,” Campbell said. “We got very lucky, even compared to some of the towns around us.”

The area at Route 202 and Pierce Hill was still being worked on Tuesday by road and power crews, who are removing debris and working to restore power to the area, said Campbell, but was open to traffic. The town also temporarily had to shut down sections of Greenfield Road and Gillis Hill Road for trees that came down on electrical wires, but both roads are now open.

At the peak of power outages in town, there were 80 households without power, said Campbell. At his last update, that number had shrunk to between 20 and 25 households.

No one reported any structural damage, said Campbell, and no one requested shelter during the storm. The town didn’t have any flooding either.

Wednesday morning, Bennington experienced a setback in the number of residences that had recovered power. According to Police Chief Steve Campbell, on Tuesday afternoon power was restored to all but 20 to 25 PSNH customers. But by Wednesday morning the number of people without power swelled again to 90 households, according to Bennington Police Officer Greg Hertik, as crews worked to repair damage. “That may be because they’re cutting power to repair the line, and it will be turned back on as that happens,” said Hertik.

The roads were back open Wednesday, and there hasn’t been any additional damage reported since the storm ended, he said.

Jaffrey

Fallen trees brought down power lines throughout the town of Jaffrey during peak hours of the storm Monday night into early Tuesday morning, according to police. A section of Sawtelle Road was closed to traffic shortly before 10 p.m. Monday due to a large tree limb that had fallen across the roadway and brought down wires. Sawtelle Road remained closed Tuesday afternoon, as work crews from the PSNH have not yet made it out to the site, said Police Chief Bill Oswalt on Tuesday.

Annette Road also remained closed Tuesday due to down power lines that were first reported to police at approximately 4:35 p.m. on Monday. Residents of Gilson Road and Gibbs Road reported to police on both Monday and Tuesday seeing trees on wires near their homes.

Mountain Road, Prescott Road, Thorndike Pond Road, Main Street and Cross Street all had trees that fell and temporarily blocked roadways between 4 and 9 p.m. Monday. Jaffrey police said they were assisted by the town’s Highway Department and several citizens in efforts to remove the trees.

Gilson Road, from Thorndike Pond Road to Mccoy Road, is the only road that remained closed in the town of Jaffrey as of Wednesday afternoon, according to Fire Chief David Chamberlain. Downed trees, wires and a telephone pole must be cleaned up and repaired before the road can be reopened, he said.

While Gibbs Road is passable, Chamberlain said downed wires there had not been repaired as of midday Wednesday. Scattered power outages still persisted throughout town Wednesday, including on Great Road and Squantum Road, he said. “There has been a significant change since last night,” Chamberlain said of the number of customers without power Wednesday. “At one point there had been close to 400, but now there are about 250 or so.”

Sawtelle Road was closed to traffic Monday evening and most of Tuesday, but Chamberlain said PSNH has since repaired the hanging power lines.

Dublin

Town operations in Dublin were pretty much back to normal Wednesday, two days after strong winds and heavy rains created widespread power outages in neighborhoods throughout town, said Fire Chief Tom Vanderbilt Wednesday morning.

“We are through the worst of it. The road agent says all the roads are now open and [PSNH] is coming down the homestretch,” Vanderbilt said, referring to the last of the electrical repairs.

Tuesday afternoon Public Service of New Hampshire had reported approximately 27 percent, or 263, of its customers were still without power. As of Wednesday afternoon, fewer than 7 percent of PSNH customers in Dublin were reportedly without power.

One unique situation,Vanderbilt noted, was a pine tree that had been uprooted and come down on the roof of a home on Highfield Lane, a private roadway off of Lake Road near Dublin Lake. Vanderbilt assessed the home and said there was no damage to the inside, but the copper roofing sustained some damage in the area where the tree had fallen. No one was inside the home at the time, he said, as the owner, Nick Silitch, was in New York.

Dublin Road was closed down for sometime Monday evening due to downed trees, but had reopened by Tuesday afternoon. On Goldmine Road, orange cones had been placed in a couple of areas where power lines still hung low over the roadway, but the area was back to normal as of Wednesday.

Rindge

In Rindge, Lord Brook Road, from the Main Street turnoff to 19 Lord Brook Road, and Mountain Road were both closed to traffic as of 1 p.m. Tuesday due to wires down in the road. Other roads that were previously closed by downed trees, including Thomas Road, the area by 374 Main St. and 99 West Main St., have since reopened

Wellington Road also had a tree down on electrical wires, causing smoke. As of Tuesday afternoon, most of the roads had been dealt with, including removal of the tree from the wires on Wellington Road, according to Rindge’s Interim Police Chief Frank Morrill. “It seems that we’re on a quick road for recovery,” he said.

PSNH work crews were in a couple of Rindge neighborhoods on Wednesday morning working to restore power to its customers, according to Fire Chief and Emergency Management Director Rick Donovan. “All the roads are open,” he said Wednesday. “We just have a couple of isolated areas where the power company is working, one of which is Rand Road.”

In that neighborhood, he said strong winds pulled an electrical service box off a house.

Lord Brook Road, from the Main Street turnoff to 19 Lord Brook Road, and Mountain Road were closed to traffic Tuesday, but Donovan said the wires were repaired by Wednesday morning and the roads reopened.

On Wednesday, fewer than 20 percent of residents in Rindge were still without power, according to PSNH’s website.

Residents with property damage from the storm, Donovan said, should call the Fire Department at 899-3422 so the town can log the information and apply for federal assistance funds.

Antrim

PSNH crews were out in force in Antrim as about 50 percent of customers were without power at 7 a.m. Tuesday morning, according to Antrim Police Chief Scott Lester.

One area crews focused on was Old Turnpike Road, said Lester, which still had a large tree leaning on the electrical wires as of 3 p.m. Tuesday. Tuesday morning, police said Old Turnpike Road was open to through traffic, but New England Traffic Control officers on the scene Tuesday afternoon were rerouting traffic.

“There are still small sticks and branches on the road, which drivers should be aware and careful of, but the majority of the roads are open and clear,” Lester said Tuesday.

Lester said he observed minor damage to fences or outlying buildings in the wake of the storm, but no major structural damages has been reported so far.

The town had returned to normal operations by Wednesday, according to Fire Chief Mike Beauchamp. All the roads have been cleared, and power has been restored throughout the town, he said.

“Everything seems to be back to normal and functioning very well,” said Beauchamp. “We had downed wires and trees, but those have all been cleared, and from then on everything’s been good.”

Greenfield

Trees and downed wires closed four roads in Greenfield during the peak of the storm, according to Emergency Management Director John Gryval. Mountain Road, Old Bennington Road, County Road and Slip Road all had trees bring down wires, closing the roads temporarily, said Gryval. All of the roads were passable by Tuesday afternoon.

All of Greenfield lost power at one point, Gryval said, but power was restored to the majority of town at about 11:35 a.m. Tuesday.

Town Administrator Aaron Patt was alone at the town office, which was officially closed Tuesday morning. He said the town had recently approved the purchase of a generator for the town office, but it wasn’t yet installed. Patt said he hadn’t seen many signs of damage in town, but a lot of people were without power. “We’re waiting patiently,” he said.

At Harvester Market in Greenfield, business was going on as usual Tuesday, according to manager Laura Grant. The market’s generator had been running since 4 p.m. Monday. “We’re up and running. The guys did good last night,” she said, referring to town workers who had been clearing roads.

The town was up and running again Wednesday, according to Emergency Management Director John Gryval.

After speaking with the Highway Department, Gryval confirmed that all the roads in town were officially clear and open, after several were closed due to downed wires and/or trees.

“There has been absolutely no major damage reported,” said Gryval. “We’ve been really, really good.”

Wilton

Damage to wires interrupted the town’s water supply and affected the town’s ambulance barn, but repairs have already been made, according to Wilton Police Chief Brent Hautanen.

A branch down on wires on Isaac Frye Highway on Monday night resulted in a loss of power to the pumps at the town’s water tank on Abbott Hill Road. The power was restored at about 1 a.m. Tuesday morning, said Hautanen. Another critical area that was swiftly dealt with was Forest Road, where a loss of power impacted the facility where the town stores its emergency ambulances.

Power has been restored to some parts of town, said Hautanen, but as of Tuesday afternoon, there were still about 20 percent of residences without electricity.

Other roads that closed temporarily were Badger Farm Road and Mason Road, but all roads are now open and passable, said Hautanen.

A tree hit a barn on Petty Road causing structural damage, but no one was injured, according to Hautanen.

“We had less damage than compared to some of the other towns,” said Hautanen. “I think all the tree-trimming efforts from PSNH really helped with that.”

Some residents were still without electricity on Wednesday afternoon, especially in the area of Abbott Hill and Pead Hill, according to Hautanen.

Crews from PSNH were in both areas on Wednesday, said Hautanen, working to restore power. A larger issue for the town were phone and Internet connections. While residents were able to make local calls and dial 911, there were issues with calling long distance, Hautanen said. Long-distance calls, along with Internet connections were routed through New York, and were damaged when Hurricane Sandy hit, he explained, leaving Wilton residents with phone and Internet issues well into Wednesday afternoon when the issue was finally resolved.

All the roads that had been temporarily closed due to downed trees and wires are now back open, he added, and most of the smaller debris has been cleaned up.

Reporters Dave Anderson, Alyssa Dandrea and Ashley Saari contributed to this article.

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